Archive for March, 2014

Letter to an Old Poet

 French Market

Dear Rose,

I know you are disappointed that every poem, save one, you submitted for publication since early October was rejected.  I know it is hard to believe.  I mean, who could resist this:

clumps of shredded fur

hawk shrieks above trail of blood

rabbit inside out

Well, Tiny Words, for one. 

But be realistic.  You are an old new poet.  No one wants to publish old new poets.  Yes, Passager publishes works of “the elderly” but even they have not been interested in your work.

Remember what Marjorie Perlof said in an April 2013 Poetry Foundation Podcast.  It is too easy to call yourself a poet these days, she said, adding that there are people who start at 60, even 70, and think they can become poets.

Of course, it’s not like you plan to claw your way up some academic ladder or compete for a Pulitzer.  So, find a niche.  Take this one you wrote for that themed issue about The Midwest.


To make a prairie

take a pen and draw a line

clear across the page –

show roots of grass going South,

perpendicular to Earth.

I know you thought this was a clever poem.  But, just because you are from the Midwest and you know what constitutes a prairie, that doesn’t mean the editors agree.  They did not.

What should you do?  Stop writing?  Stop submitting poems?

Writing will happen, and, you will want to share your poems by getting them published.   One thing you definitely should do is stop responding to “calls” for types of poems.

Another thing is to think more about what to write.  One member of your poetry group writes memoirs, another about birds, another about nature, another about herself and family.  What would they say you write about?

Sadly, you, my dear Rose, are all over the place.  Like your life, your writing is a little of this and a little of that.  That is a good topic for my next letter:  are you simply an amateur and a dilettante or is it possible for you to focus on one theme for longer than two weeks and become a poet…at any age?  Until then, keep on writing.


Aunt Sue


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